As parents, it can be difficult to get teenagers to eat enough. They’re often busy with extracurricular activities, studying, and socializing, leaving little time or energy for food. But ensuring your teen gets the nutrition they need is an important part of their development. So here are a few solutions that will encourage your teenager to eat more:
Provide healthy options
Getting teenagers to eat healthily can seem daunting, but it is possible if you provide the right options. Encourage your teenager to choose healthier snacks, such as nuts and dried fruit, rather than sweets and chips. Furthermore, ensure that all meals include nutritious ingredients such as dark leafy greens, lean proteins, and healthy whole grains.
When deciding what food to have in the home, prioritize fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread and pasta, low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cheese, lean chicken or fish, eggs, legumes, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Making these foods readily available will make it easier for your teenager to form healthier eating habits.
Get them involved
Getting your teenager involved in shopping for and preparing meals can effectively encourage them to make healthier food choices. Inviting your teen to help you plan menus and shop for groceries helps them feel more in control of their food choices, giving them ownership over what is taken into their bodies.
Carving out time to watch cooking videos together or having fun by letting them create their own dishes are delicious ways to teach teens healthy eating habits without taking away their choice.
Make meal times enjoyable
Meal times should be a fun and relaxed part of the day for your teenager and their family. Encouraging them to eat more is easy if meals become an enjoyable activity. Devise an atmosphere that encourages conversation and laughter while they dine—make sure mobile devices are put away, leaving time for everyone to connect and chat.
You can also try setting a relaxed yet structured timetable for meal times, with a set meal and snack times that the whole family can look forward to. This helps to ensure your teenager doesn’t skip meals or snacks out of boredom or habit, which can result in poor nutrition and unhealthy eating patterns.
Embrace new foods
Teens are often reluctant to try new things and are picky with what they eat. But this is the perfect opportunity to become a culinary adventurer together—encourage your teen to try new and different foods that are healthy and nutritious, such as exotic fruits or unfamiliar vegetables.
When introducing new foods, pair them with familiar elements like seasonings and sauces to increase their palatability. To make dishes more interesting and exciting, you can also try experimenting with new cooking methods, such as grilling or roasting. Whatever you do, be sure to keep things lighthearted and playful—your teen is more likely to enjoy trying new foods if they don’t feel like they’re being forced.
Set a good example
Setting a good example for your teenager is important in encouraging them to eat more nutritiously. Letting processed and sugary snacks take the lead in your meals is detrimental to your health. It communicates to your teen that these are the types of foods that are acceptable to eat.
Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet by choosing healthier side dishes and preparing balanced meals can help show teenagers what healthy eating looks like. You may even find it helpful to create a meal plan to stay on track week after week. By making this lifestyle adjustment yourself, you’ll provide the best guidance for your teen and ensure they get all the nutrition they need.
Address health issues preventing them from eating right
Another possible reason your teenager might not be eating much is that they are dealing with a health issue or condition that makes it difficult for them to eat well.
One common issue teens may face is tooth loss, which can make chewing certain foods difficult and uncomfortable. If you’re worried that tooth loss might prevent your teen from getting the nutrition they need, have them get dental implants. These implants are designed to look and feel like natural teeth, making it easy for your teen to eat a wide range of foods.
Other health issues that might keep your teenager from eating right include digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause uncomfortable gas and bloat. In these cases, speaking with a doctor or nutritionist is essential to develop an appropriate diet plan that works for your teen.
Teenagers need to eat correctly to get the nutrients and energy required for their developing bodies. If you find your teen struggling to eat enough, provide healthy options, involve them in meal preps, make meal times enjoyable, embrace new foods, set a good example, and address health issues preventing them from eating right. By taking these steps, you can help your teen enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet that will support their overall health and well-being.